We'd talked and talked about doing something cigar related and fun in Low Country Pipe & Cigar (our brick & mortar retail store located just beneath the main office) but just couldn’t seem to prop up the right idea. Then it dawned on Bill, our store manager, that we ought to do a Brickhouse cigar event, seeing as how SPC and LCP&C inhabits a one hundred-plus-year old brick building (that was, at one point, among other things, someone's house).
We set a date, put the word out to our customers, and a few weeks later David Ludwig from Brickhouse showed up in a fancy suit with a trunkful of cigars. The turnout was shockingly fantastic, and thanks to the samples David was generous enough to pass out I think a lot of guys got turned on to Brickhouse that wouldn’t have otherwise. In fact, I know it. One of our regular store customers known for only smoking Rocky Patels bought a box of Brickhouse sticks. Adam tried one for the first time in years and raved about it. Even Susan enjoyed puffing on a Brickhouse stogie. Before long the store was loaded with folks and packed with smoke. Ah yes; it was a good time. And we should definitely do something like this again soon.
Kelly can choose any cigar he wants in our walk-in humidor when he feels a craving, so what puts him in the mood for a particular stick? The Padron 7000 Natural is one of his all-time favorite go-to smokes. When the afternoon allows hustle and bustle in the store to wind down a bit, the medium-bodied cigar calls like a Siren. Part of smoking a cigar is about sitting back and relaxing. While smoking a small one will do, firing up a large 6-inch by 60 ring stogie will allow for a lot more contemplation time. Superbly constructed with an even draw, the smoke delivers coffee bean notes, as Kelly says, and never disappoints. Later in the afternoon, this is something you will find Kelly savoring more than many others. If you've never tried one, he suggests you give it a shot.
I sat down with Kelly McLaughlin - our cigar expert in the store - to chat about one of his favorite smokes. Our store, Low Country Pipe & Cigar puts together a local email newsletter that features
special selections and notes for many of our walk-in customers, so it seems fitting to extend some of his passion here on our blog.
The Perdomo Reserve Champagne Churchill (7" x 54 ring gauge) is one of Kelly's favorite cigars and has become a best
seller over the years, in no small part to his admiration for this particular smoke. Delicious 6-year aged Connecticut Champagne wrappers lend subtle flavors to the smoke, while the well-aged Cuban-seed
filler and binder adds richness and character. It’s a perfect starting point for the new cigar smokers as well as the seasoned aficionado.
Adam: "So, why is this one of your favorite cigars?"
Kelly: "I love the Perdomo Champagne line because it's one of those cigars that I can depend on for consistent flavor, mild-to-medium in strength, and a room note that keeps others asking 'what
are you smoking?' This is one of our best-selling cigars. As you can see, there is a customer sitting out in our lounge waiting on a couple buddies to smoke this exact cigar. They first started coming in a
while ago, and gravitate back to this on a regular basis. When they pick up one of these Champagnes, they know what to expect: flavor."
Adam: "Let’s start with how you cut the cigar. What works best for you?"
Kelly: "I prefer to use a single punch because the cigar is so well constructed I don't feel the need to remove the entire cap for smoke flow. All Perdomo cigars go into a machine that tests the draw
flow and pressure prior to the caps being put in place, so I know it's going to smoke well. The double-cap holds everything together, but I've just found this is what I like for this cigar."
Adam: "Is there a reason you prefer this size and ring gauge over a smaller one?"
Kelly: "A cigar with a larger ring gauge burns less with each puff, so the proportions of filler/binder/wrapper are different on a smaller cigar. I find that these larger ones smoke a bit cooler
and there is more room for the flavors to develop during the smoke."
Adam: "What flavors do you experience with this one?"
Kelly: "After I punch the hole, I always take a test draw before lighting. I know it's going to smoke just fine, but this is a good time to make sure. While the wrapper has an aroma of fresh baked
bread crust with a lingering sweetness, the filler tobaccos lend a desirable Szechuan pepper flavor that makes me really look forward to firing it up."
Adam: "There a lot of different ways to light a cigar, but what's your favorite?"
Kelly: "I prefer to use a single-torch lighter to toast the foot without puffing. After evenly charring it and seeing a red coal, I let the lighter go out and take a gentle puff. In doing this,
the cigar sends out plumes of smoke and starts burning evenly right off the bat without allowing any of the super-heated smoke to drift into the body of the cigar, which is what happens when someone uses a
torch or triple torch to begin the smoke. It's different for everyone, but I just prefer the first puff to be at the same temperature as during the smoke."
Adam: "Do any flavors develop as you smoke?"
Kelly: "Sure. The initial puff brings forth the Szechuan pepper notes balanced with some of that sweet toasty aroma, and even a lingering strong coffee with cream coats the palate. As I smoke, the
pepper flavors intensify a little bit, but they aren't overwhelming or bitter at all. I love relaxing and enjoying all of the nuances during this smoke. When I get about an inch and a half from my lips I
let the cigar go out. Since all of the tobacco behind the ash filters the smoke, this is the point where it loses individual character. For me, putting a cigar down at the end of a good smoke is better than
continuing past the best flavors it has to offer. Bitterness and intensity reside in the very end, so I always want to have my last puff be a good one."
The other day, Brian asked me about this video interview. He remembered having done it, but we'd never put it up. It sort of got lost in the mass of footage we took at the show in New Orleans in early August. We're glad to finally get it up on the blog. It's a little difficult to hear the first few seconds, but it clears up after that. Generally, the sound required serious fiddling which, for some reason that I'm sure some serious sound guy might be able to explain, worked much better with Glen's voice than Brian's. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it!
Also, I've been really impressed by the Kristoff Ligero line especially, though I find that a hearty meal preceding smoking helps tremendously...
Now, while many of you already now that our very own Brian Levine is as expert in 'pipes and tobacco' as they come, few realize that his knowledge of cigars and cigar care is quite advanced as well. Or maybe that's just me. Nevertheless, Brian took the time out of his very busy schedule, which primarily consists of talking to customers about Disneyland, Disney pipes, Disney music (which he tends to often blast from his office) and, on occasion, pipes, to share with us his preferred method of readying a new humidor for cigar storage. As you'll see, the process is a lot easier than it is often made out to be.
Since all humidors are purchased in a dry state, it takes time to 'season' them to the proper humidity for the cigars inside. The ideal standard in the business is 70% humidity - this will ensure that your cigars are stored in a perfect environment for aging, cutting, and smoking. Below 65% will slowly dry out some cigars, and above 75% will make a moist environment that could swell the filler and crack the wrapper (not to mention making burning more difficult).
Alright, I confess, I'd sort of forgotten that we still had some great footage from the IPCPR show in New Orleans in August. We took a lot of video at the show and with fully three of us behind the camera at various times, I sort of lost track of what all we had. The upside is that trolling through the raw footage is sort of like a treasure trove, as I eliminate video of me tripping over my own words, or Alyson and Susan not realizing that the camera is rolling and continuing their discussion on how silly the boys get when presented with all of the smokable goodies at the show (which, I might add, took place while they themselves were enjoying Kristoff coronas, so I think they have little room to stand on when mocking Brian and me).
Anyway, there's still lots of good stuff left, not least of which is this great interview with our friend Pete Johnson. When Pete launched Tatuaje, we were early, enthusiastic fans of the luscious Tatuaje Brown Label, rolled in Miami. Since then (perhaps a little more than five years ago), Tatuaje has continued to occupy a hallowed place in our humidor and continues to be a disproportionately popular brand both in the store and on Smokingpipes.com.
Sunday Inventory is like Sunday football: People cry
There’s a word here at Smokingpipes.com that brings horror to the face every
On Sunday we will be conducting our quarterly inventory. This unwelcome event takes
place on the last Sunday of every quarter. It also so happens that we are now into
football season, which in my house means Sunday afternoons are booked indefinitely.
My husband and I make total couch potatoes of ourselves, unless, of course, we are
forced to go to the local sports bar when our team’s game isn’t televised. And, no,
Direct TV is not available in our neighborhood – that’s another subject, entirely.
In preparation for this daunting task called inventory, we will spend the next
couple of days ensuring each department is organized before entering the count into
our system on Sunday. Keep in mind that we are very heavy in inventory as we are
just coming out of our annual purchasing trips in Italy, Denmark, and New Orleans.
In fact, I was just downstairs in our retail store to find Kelly wrestling in the
humidor with cigars that seemed to be growing from every nook. Ron is keeping his
cool, but muttering, secretly “What were they thinking, ordering all these cigars
before inventory!?” I noticed Jennifer is reorganizing our bulk tobacco room to
accommodate all the new shipments we’ve recently received. Over in the shipping
department I found Janice on the floor surrounded by tins of tobacco. Janice is
equivalent to the team equipment manager of an NFL team. Organization should be her
middle name. Pam and Alyson are busy on the 2nd floor in our pipe library
organizing new arrivals. Adam is checking-in all the estate pipes. He isn’t
making donuts for us this week. We need to keep our game weight down. No training
room or weight room here at Smokingpipes.com, only stair steps.
After reviewing his playbook and holding a team meeting, Brian has assigned players
to starting positions; teams for a Sunday kick off at 10:00 am. They are as
Sykes (Team Owner) and Pam: Estates
Brian (Head Coach) and Alyson: New Pipes
Susan and Ted: Tinned Tobacco and Accessories
Ron, Kelly, and Lisa (me): Cigars; Ron will be playing with an injured left ankle; we may have to wheel him around the humidor. No injured reserve list here at
Smokingpipes.com. How convenient for me; all the cigars are down in the store where we have a couch and a television.
There will be a halftime lunch with 1st half assessments by Sykes and a motivational
speech by Coach Brian. Hopefully we don’t go into overtime! We will definitely
have some Monday Morning Quarterbacking (aka: the dreaded missing-pipe list). Sykes
will be crunching numbers and reviewing the stats.
While many of you will be home watching football this Sunday, think of me counting:
1 cigar, 2 cigars, 3 cigars, etc...
Yesterday, I put up a post indicating that we were having some technical problems posting the video. Well, it seems to have quasi-magically righted itself, so here's the promised video of Brian Levine interviewing Yadi about the new cigars from Flor de Gonzalez, Qban and 90 Mile.
I've written my praise of Rocky Patel cigars here before, but this is something hard to ignore. We had a recent video blog about their 15th anniversary cigar, and I smoked one with great pleasure. This brand is awesome. A few weeks ago, Bill Westfield (one of our estate crew), decided he wanted to try some cigars to expand his horizons. Since Bill wasn't sure about what kind of cigar he wanted, and was open to all possibilities, I suggested he try a few and go from there.
Walking down to our humidor, Bill's eyes were scanning the rather large selection while trying to find something in the size he wanted. With so many boxes, wrappers, bands, and aromas, I suggested he attack his craving with some order. As mentioned in an earlier blog post, the Rocky Patel Edge
Light is one of our best selling cigars. Not surprisingly, the Edge
Corojo and Edge
Maduro are also very popular smokes. This isn't the first time I've talked with an employee, or customer, and suggested they try one of each. While I have been known to smoke more than one cigar at a time, smoking them the same day (assuming there is time) is a great way to compare two or more. While this can be done with any cigar, these Edge cigars are all the same size (5"x 48 ring gauge), all have similar long-fillers (Nicaraguan and Honduran) and binders (Nicaraguan) with the difference being the wrappers. Connecticut shade dresses the Edge Lite with a creamy, caramel-colored leaf; the Edge Maduro has a dark, oily wrapper from fermentation that really adds a rich, smokey element like a bold cup of espresso; and the Edge Corojo (often neck and neck in sales with the Lite) has a flavor somewhere between the two others, with a deliciously spicy element.
When able to compare these cigars in the same day, it's best to begin with the lighter of all three, and work your way up to the Corojo and eventually the rich Maduro. Just like tasting cheeses, starting with something mild will allow room for additional richness without overpowering the palate. Tasting a mild cheese before working up to a blue Stilton is much the same as working up to a maduro.
Given that these cigars are so similar, this allowed Bill to better understand what makes a cigar taste the way it does. Many people are surprised that a thin layer of wrapper can change a cigar so much, but it makes a bit more sense that there are flavors absorbed on the lips that add to taste not found in the smoke. While they are all unique cigars, each has an excellent draw and consistency from box to box. One of the last steps to sorting cigars is by color, so every stick in the box is an identical shade.
The experiment resulted in Bill liking all three, but favoring the milder wrapper of the Edge Lite. Since our little experiment, Bill has enjoyed quite a few of these, and also understands that a torpedo is a very comfortable cigar in his teeth.
So, whether you decide to smoke these all on the same day or not, comparing can be a wonderful experience and help you better understand why you like something so much.
As you know, IPCPR was held in New Orleans earlier this month. We really enjoyed scouting out new products that ranged from pipe tobacco to accessories to cigars. I headed to Mexico City, Mexico four days after we returned home thinking that shipments would start arriving when I got back to work. Boy, was I wrong! I honestly believe the UPS driver was hiding around the corner waiting for me to leave. I did a little work via internet while I was away and got a sneak-peek as to what was coming in. This prompted me to get back to work a day early to start corralling all the new items.
If tobacco and accessories could be compared to animals, then someone opened all the cages in the zoo. There are new breeds of cigars blocking the walkway in the humidor. Tobacco species of all kinds are taking over the receiving area and classes of bulk and accessory varieties are in total control of my desk! It is now my job to classify and divide these untamed specimens into updates so you, our faithful follower, can enjoy the new additions without getting lost in the wild!
So get the safari hats and binoculars out and get ready for the future updates. We will be unveiling new creatures each week like the annual seasonal blend from a well-known tobacconist that will be in today's update.
We snagged Rocky for a quick interview on the IPCPR show floor in New Orleans last week. He was super-busy, but kind enough to take a couple of minutes with us to talk about his new cigars, especially the Fifteenth Anniversary cigar. He also touches on the new Cargo line.
Stepping back to a couple of
weeks ago for a moment, when Kevin Godbee and I were in Denmark in late July, we established, finally
and definitively, that Dunhill tobaccos would be coming back to the United States in September or
October, first through conversations with Orlik and then, finally, getting confirmation from British-
American Tobacco. The first day of the show, Tuesday, while we were at the Ashton booths, talking about
Petersons with Tom Palmer (Managing Director of Peterson), Michael Walters (Sales Manager for Ashton),
and Evan Carpenter (our regional sales representative), it became clear that we better get an order
together for CAO for the Dunhill tobaccos. Susan and Brian dashed over there, while Alyson and I
continued to work on Petersons. They placed an order for many thousands of tins of Dunhill tobacco for
late September delivery (which might be a slightly optimistic ETA, so we're actually figuring on early
October). The really important thing was to secure the Dunhill in appropriate quantities. Even in these
truly massive amounts, we are a little concerned with stock problems in the autumn given all of the
folks out there waiting for it to become available again. We'd return to both Ashton and CAO later in
the show to conduct cigar and accessory business, but getting the pipes taken care of with Peterson and
the tobacco taken care of with CAO took priority over all else late Tuesday morning.
Having wrapped up all of the pipe buying,
we moved into a more normal pace for the rest of the show. After a quick lunch, we had a meeting with
General Cigar to talk about their new products, including some really interesting new cigars from La
Gloria Cubana, including the new Serie-N cigars, plus the new Artesanos Obilisks. While Susan and Brian
actually conducted the business-y bits, Alyson and I set about interviewing Yuri Guillen, factory manager for La Gloria Cubana about all the new stuff. General also had a cigar roller based in
Miami up for the show, so that was fun to watch too (and we have video of all of this we'll work on
getting up over the next few weeks).
After that, the chronology of it all starts to get a bit blurry. Brian and Susan had a meeting with
Oliva Cigars, of which I caught the tail end, while I did some quick following up with pipe folks that
we'd already been to see, and tobacco folks to set things up for later in the show. As the day wore on,
we visited the Villiger-Stokkebye booths, both because we needed to give them an order and also because
they were in charge of feeding us Tuesday night. We spent some time talking with Kevin and Gary from
Villiger-Stokkebye, plus Brian and I touched base on a couple of projects with Erik Stokkebye and the
representative from Scandinavian Tobacco (Orlik's parent company) who was present for the show. Susan
set to work structuring our ordering for the next couple of months with Gary, Villiger-Stokkebye's all
round logistics guy, which requires a fair bit of planning: a whole lot of tobacco travels from
Charlotte, NC to Little River, SC every week. After that, Erik, Brian and I attended a short trade
organization / legislative meeting that started right after the show, while Susan and Alyson went
immediately to Altadis' cocktail party. Altadis puts on quite a party and had we not been anticipating a
serious dinner with the Stokkebye folks later that evening, we could have spent all evening there. We
did get a chance to talk to a couple of senior people about the tobacco regulatory environment, which
was good for keeping us in the loop.
Speaking of which, a major topic of conversation at the show was the TTB's definitions of pipe
tobacco and according regulations. It's terribly esoteric and convoluted, but the short and long of it
is that, after extended conversations with Mike McNiel from McClelland and Paul Creasy and others from
Altadis, we're actually feeling better about the situation than we have in recent months. The TTB and
ATF seem to be handling this fairly transparently and fairly, at least by governmental regulatory body
standards. Much remains to be seen, which may take years to be established, but it seems like everything
will generally remain as is in the mid-term.
And that evening, we had an amazing culinary and historical experience courtesy of the wonderful
folks at Villiger-Stokkebye. And for that story, you'll have to tune in again for the next part of the
IPCPR trip overview...
Much of my past week has been spent prepping for our trip to New Orleans for the annual IPCPR trade show. Hotel rooms and transportation are all set; we have great dinners lined up and I'm excited to make my requisite pilgrimage to Café du Monde on Jackson Square for beignets and coffee at least once (or about eight times if time permits). Susan, Alyson, Sykes and I met this past Wednesday to plan day one of the show, our pipe day. Knute Rockne would not be impressed, but Sykes was actually drawing football plays by the end of the meeting (which, among other things, is why we try to avoid having meetings). Ron, our store manager, handed me a list multiple pages long that reads like an eight-year-old's list for Santa Claus and we have appointments lined up with makers of pipes, pipe tobacco and, especially at this show, cigars.
I've already received many ideas from friends for cigars and other products to be on the lookout for, plus one unsolicited, but much appreciated, jazz club recommendation. Now is your chance to help: tell us what you'd like to see in the comments section of this post! I'll see what I can do at the show and I'll follow up with another post when I return.
Touching again on the theme of summertime cigars, I wanted to share of
of my favorite smokes. There are a ton of good cigars out there, and
some are still priced for us to enjoy them more often. When I began
working in our store, Low Country Pipe & Cigar, there were a lot of
choices and I didn't know where to begin. Even after I did a great
deal of research, limited funding and enormous choices still made
tasting less frequent than I would like. Sure, it's great to help
customers pick out a cigar, but it's equally nice when an enthusiastic
patron suggests something to me.
Enter Rocky Patel cigars. These have always been a great seller in our
store and on our website, but there was about to be a huge spike in
sales. The customer, a doctor, enjoyed these with his buddies while
golfing, and explained how they are mild and flavorful. Well, needless
to say, my interest increased. When I would work the store on
Saturdays, I would arrive about 45 minutes early to prep a pot of
coffee (many times two) and fire up a cigar. While walking through our
humidor and taking in the sweet-cedar aromas, the Edge
Lite was calling out. I do enjoy rich maduro smokes later in the
day, but they are too bold for the morning. Taking the torpedo in
hand, and cutting the tip, I could tell good things were to come. It's
probably something all of us do, actually. We clip the cigar and take
a draw to make sure it's going to smoke well. No problems there. Every
single Rocky Patel stogie is hand-rolled and test-drawn with a machine
designed to only pass cigars that have a specified resistance. It's no
surprise that I've never come across a more consistent smoke. Funny
thing, but the sweet taste drifting through the leaves and upon my
lips made me not want to light for a few minutes. Briefly toasting the
foot with a wooden match, and taking one delicate puff, the smoke
drifted around my head in plumes.
It's no surprise why these became the #1 cigar sold in our stores for
a year. Whenever someone would want to try something new, this was an
easy direction. Actually, I believe these are still in the top 1 or 2.
Even though I have a humidor full of good smokes, I picked up four of
these to have after dinner with friends last Thursday. A wonderful
fish fry and mahi-mahi roasted with butter and salt during a
thunderstorm was capped with four embers on the front porch facing the
Atlantic. My three buddies had never had one of these before, but all
thoroughly enjoyed them. In fact, multiple sticks sold to them the
next day. Even if you're a maduro-hound, trying one of these is
something that just might bring you back for more.
I'm a pipe smoker most of the year, but do enjoy the occasional
cigar. Smoking cigars became a pastime my freshman year of college,
and the humidor at the local B&M seemed like a candy store full of
sweet-smelling luxury. Fast forward to 2005, when I began working for
smokingpipes, and my palate had developed. The greatest time for me to
learn about cigars was when I began to work in our store, Low Country
Pipe and Cigar. It's one thing to browse around in a humidor the size
of my apartment, at the time, and another thing entirely to be able to
guide customers toward what they were really looking for. Luckily, I
was not only able to sample cigars that we had to remove from
inventory due to careless fingernail happy patrons, but the employee
Initially, I reached for what I knew I liked. A Padron 1926 maduro
was a favorite smoke for my birthdays, so I decided to figure out what
made the stick so great. Blends in a cigar (filler, wrapper, and
binder) make the smoke what it is. Further experimentation told me
there really is a difference between a $2 cigar, and one that was
closer to $10 or $20. It became important for me to learn about what I
enjoyed with each particular cigar, so listening to the cigar-reps was
actually educational. Long-filler, Nicaraguan, Dominican, Cuban-seed,
Connecticut, Maduro, clipping, punching, etc. became terms I would
absorb and repeat to our customers. Much to my amazement, I began to
know what I was talking about. When a representative from Tatuaje came
into the store, I listened to his explanations of brown label, red
label, and (later) white label. There actually is a difference in
these smokes, and the most prominent is the flavor obtained from the
Cuban-seed plants grown in Nicaragua, and I prefer the brown
I would not explain these smokes as "sweet", because they are not,
but am not hesitant to liken the flavors to toasted nuts. The first
smoke came from a Tatuaje Petite. Smaller cigars tend to have a
different flavor than their big brothers, and that comes from the
proportion of filler, binder, wrapper, and the amount of each lending
their smoke the the appropriate puff. After a brief clip to open the
draw, yet retain a portion of the cap to hold everything together, I
did a brief toast with a wooden match, and the applied a delicate
draw. Flavors of cedar, toast, and nuts swirled around my tongue. What
a fantastic smoke! To me, this is as close to the forbidden-smokes we
can't get. The Noella (center in the picture) was one of the
most popular cigars sold in our store for years, and still holds
strong. Stocking up on these is a great idea. One of the biggest, and
baddest, smokes is the foil-wrapped RC-233. Apparently, Cuban cigars
used to be entirely wrapped in such foils, but customers today want to
see what they are buying (and I agree). For my birthday this year, my
wife and I headed to the state park on the beach to grill out, get
some sun, and I fired up the cigar. Part of me was worried that the
size would make for an extremely strong or bitter smoke toward the
end. Not true. The double-tapered construction allows for brief
changes in flavor toward the beginning, and I smoked this all they way
down to a nub. I enjoy my pipes at work, and in my workshop, but when
I head to the beach for a good part of the day, a great cigar fits the
We have some cigar experts here. Brian's been kicking around the cigar business for years, Ron knows his stuff. As do Kelly and Adam. I've deferred to the cigar knowledge of others for some time. The cigar business changes too quickly for me to keep up. So, while I think I write and speak knowledgeably about pipes and pipe tobaccos, I always feel like I'm on shakier ground with cigars, lest someone guess that I really haven't much idea what I'm talking about when I'm talking cigars. So, upfront on the cigar thing, I don't know much of anything about cigars. In theory, I've been in the cigar business for eleven years in one capacity or another. In reality, I've spent 97.5% of that time thinking about pipes and pipe tobacco. For serious cigar insight, I suggest talking with someone else here. That warning in place, read on if you want a pipe guy's musings on cigars...
That said, I am an occasional cigar smoker. And since even occasional cigar smokers like to pontificate about what they like to smoke, I feel like I'm equally equipped to share some thoughts on this. I tend to go in fits and starts with cigars. The pipe is a near constant companion, but I might go a month without smoking a cigar and then smoke a half dozen in a week and then go another month without smoking one. Lately, I've found myself smoking milder maduros. Not necessarily really mild, but I've always liked maduros, but found many (think Camacho, for example) just a bit too much for both a) my tolerance for that kind of nicotine, and b) my rather unsophisticated cigar palate.
Two have jumped out at me lately. Carlos Torano's Virtuoso line, specifically the Baton. I also like the Encore when I haven't the time for the super-long lancero shape (and, seriously, the Baton is the first lancero that I've ever liked; I'm normally a robusto/toro kind of guy). Anyway, this maduro has a lot going for it: rich and earthy, but not overwhelming, almost creamy at times, and subtly spicy here and there. I tried my first Baton at the IPCPR show almost two years ago and have returned to it over and over since then. They're also fairly reasonable price-wise, making them a solid choice for me, a guy who flinches slightly at the prospect of a ten dollar cigar.
Pricier, but not eliciting too much of a flinch, is Ashton's Aged Maduro No. 20. Soft, creamy, gentle, complex: I simply love this cigar. I also have this distinct impression that I might be the only guy in the country who smokes Ashton Aged Maduros. I think some of my more sophisticated cigar smoking brethren might turn their noses up at a mild, gentle maduro, but I think this is one fine cigar-- one that it too often overlooked next to its more famous brethren like the VSG (which, yes, I also like, but that's sort of like saying that I like chocolate ice cream: does anyone not like Ashton VSGs?).
I'm still very much exploring my way through the humidor, taking recommendations from those guys here who know cigars better than I do. It's a fun process. With pipe tobacco, I pretty much know what I'm getting into; yes, I get excited about new blends, especially ones that I think I'll like, but that narrows the exploratory field for me. With cigars, I feel like an early colonial lost in the wilds of Virginia, treading a path entirely unfamiliar. With pipe tobacco, it's sort of like hanging out in a neighborhood I've known my whole life. It's a totally different experience for me, and not just because the flavors diverge so wildly.
Hours of Operation:
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